All of this, in the hands of a lesser comedian, might be both patronizing and smug, but Cohen satirizes himself in the process. What he does so brilliantly is send up the outsider as the ugly tourist abroad. Borat is a cultural grenade lobbed on customs and attitudes without his realizing that he's insulting everyone in sight. Cohen's Borat is essentially a naif, an engaging boob, who thinks he knows everything but in reality understands nothing. Director Larry Charles (
Masked and Anonymous ) structures the picture as a mock documentary featuring a series of encounters Borat has with typical Americans beginning in New York, where he just about gets decked for trying to greet subway passengers with a kiss, to the Deep South, where he guilelessly invites a prostitute to a formal dinner, then finally landing in California where he unwittingly sabotages a Pamela Anderson autograph session. Suggesting some of the maniacal skill of Peter Sellers, Cohen so deeply inhabits the character of Borat that all traces of the actor disappear.
Borat is an equal opportunity offender that doesn't insult your intelligence.
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox
Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen.
Director: Larry Charles
Screenwriter: Sacha Baron Cohen & Anthony Hines & Peter Baynham & Dan Mazer
Producers: Sacha Baron Cohen, Jay Roach
Rating: R for pervasive strong crude and sexual content including graphic nudity and language
Running time: 82 min.